I am so immersed in the world of aesthetic medicine that I sometimes forget that many people have absolutely no idea of what it entails! It’s a relatively new branch of medicine…it certainly wasn’t around when I was at Med school but it’s a field of medicine that has grown quickly and is constantly evolving and improving.
Aesthetic medicine incorporates all medical procedures that are aimed at improving the physical appearance of a patient. Usually, this involves using non-invasive or minimally invasive procedures. Initially, aesthetic medicine was almost solely about using injectables such as wrinkle-reducing injections (botulinum toxin) and fillers but the field has grown to include a vast array of other treatments as well.
Nowadays, aesthetic medicine also often includes integrative medicine, which aims at achieving wellness in a patient, using a variety of different modalities including Western medicine and complementary therapies.
With the world’s population living for longer and longer, the demand for aesthetic medicine is growing. People want to feel good as they age and are actively looking at ways to achieve this. They also want to look as young as they feel or look good for their age.
What’s the difference between an aesthetic salon and an aesthetic medical practice?
An aesthetic practice or salon offers treatments to help one look better. Some salons offer machine-based treatments but these are limited by staff not having a medical background. An aesthetic medical practice has a doctor involved in carrying out or prescribing the treatments which allows for more intense and/or invasive treatments being able to be offered. In South Africa, injectables (botulinum toxin, fillers, fat dissolving injections) are only allowed to be carried out by medically-qualified individuals. We are seeing major complications from fat dissolving injections being administered by therapists, leading to permanent damage and scarring….do not under any circumstances have these if the person giving them is not a doctor!
So, what brings a patient to an aesthetic medical clinic?
Usually, something about their appearance bothers them and they want to explore possible solutions. They may not be feeling good about themselves, or someone has made a negative comment, or they look in the mirror and can see that they no longer look as fresh-faced as they used to. People may have commented that they are looking tired or angry. They may have friends who have had treatments, or they have read about celebrities who have had procedures and look fantastic. Some people have researched and know a lot about procedures that are available, others have no idea. Many people have a fear of looking “done” but a good aesthetic doctor should be able to help a patient look fresh, healthy, and their personal best – and completely natural-looking.
Aesthetic medicine offers something for everyone, irrespective of age, gender or ethnicity.
What type of things can be treated?
Facial treatments include treatments aimed at improving signs of ageing, improving the texture and tone of the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, crepiness, enlarged pores, and uneven texture, and improving the appearance of sun damage, sun spots, redness and pigmentation. Dark circles, dull skin, sagging, wrinkles, acne, dark marks, and acne scarring are also able to be treated. Facial treatments are designed to get you and your skin glowing and looking healthy and radiant.
There are also treatments for the neck and décolletage that reduce pigmentation, redness, fine lines and wrinkles, crepiness, and sagging.
Body treatments include medical weight loss, treatment of resistant fat bulges, treatments for cellulite, stretch marks, sagging and scarring, laser hair removal, and treatments for hair loss.
Woman’s intimate health is a growing part of aesthetic medicine and treatments offered can help improve appearance and sensation, improve dryness, reduce the occurrence of infections, and improve urinary stress incontinence.
Integrative medicine involves looking at hormones and genetics and making lifestyle changes or taking supplements in order to achieve maximum wellness.
Looking good and feeling good is essential to one’s feeling of self-worth and self-confidence. When patients ask me if they are being vain by wanting to look better, I have a standard answer -“Why wouldn’t you want to look your best?”
We exercise and take supplements in order to feel good. We go to the hairdresser, buy nice clothes and wear make up in order to look good. Feeling good and looking good helps build self confidence. People who have self confidence tend to achieve more, are happier in themselves, and are able to give more of themselves to the special people in their lives. Why wouldn’t one want to look and feel good?
As an aesthetic medical doctor, I see my job as helping my patients look and feel their best. Feeling good in one’s own skin is a huge privilege and the mental well-being it invokes shouldn’t be underestimated. Looking after one’s self is not selfish, it’s essential.
Dr. Natasha Chapman